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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South African President Jacob Zuma says
to draw lessons from social grant saga

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday that lessons would be gleaned from “the current unfortunate episode” in relation to the growing anxiety over the social grant saga.

The government will ensure that there is no recurrence, Zuma told MPs in his first parliamentary appearance this year.

Zuma was responding to a question about what steps he intends to take against Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini, who has allegedly led her department into a national grant pay-out crisis, putting the lives of the most vulnerable citizens at risk and allegedly showing a complete disregard for the rule of law.

There have been speculations that no grants will be paid to about 17 million pensioners next month after the government failed to set up the legal mechanism to distribute the grants.

The issue has rattled the country, with political parties, labor unions, non-governmental organizations and ordinary South Africans calling for the sacking of Dlamini.

Zuma rejected calls for Dlamini to resign, saying there was no reason to fire her before “anything has happened”.

“This is another kind of democracy that if you expect someone is going to make a mistake or is going to fail, that person must be punished before it happens. It’s a funny democracy,” he said.

Zuma said the government is doing everything possible to ensure that there are no interruptions to the normal process of paying social grants to beneficiaries at the end of this month.

“As government we will ensure that a sustainable payment solution is found which is compliant with our black economic empowerment imperatives,” Zuma said.

The solution must also help ensure that fraud and corruption do not take place in the social grants payment system, he added.

A contract between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for the grant distribution has been declared illegal by the Constitutional Court.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said earlier his department would give the go-ahead to sign with the CPS, only if the Constitutional Court approved the deal.

The CPS wants the Court to order that it enters into a new and “lawful” contract with the SASSA after the existing contract expires on March 31.

Early this month, the court reserved judgment in the SASSA and CPS saga, fueling anxiety over the grant payment.

The Court failed to get an answer from the CPS about how much it will charge for distributing social grants if it concludes a new contract with the SASSA.

The Court ordered the Department of Social Development to explain why its agency SASSA failed to meet a deadline to secure another service provider to distribute social grants.
.

UPDATE:

Court ruling settles South African social grant saga

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled on Friday that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) can continue paying social grants to millions of eligible beneficiaries for another 12 months, settling a dispute that had rattled the country.

The Court ruled that CPS and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) must continue paying social grants until another entity which can do so is found.

The ruling drew immediate welcome from the government which described the order as "indicative of a progressive democratic nation".

"Government accepts unconditionally the judgment and directives of the Constitutional Court," Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said.

Beneficiaries can rest assured that social grants will be paid on April 1, 2017, he said.

A ministerial task team, set up to address the matter, will study the judgment with a view of implementing the ruling, and together with a technical team will ensure the smooth transition of grant payments following the 12 month renewal period, said Radebe.

South Africa’s social assistance programme remains an important safety net for millions of people, Radebe said.

All dedicated resources and expertise needed to ensure the smooth payment of social grants will be put in place, he pledged.

The ruling put to rest speculations that no grants would be paid to about 17 million pensioners next month after the government failed to set up the legal mechanism to distribute the grants.

A contract between the SASSA and CPS for the grant distribution had been declared illegal by the ConCourt years ago.

But in Friday’s ruling, the Court said the declaration of the invalidity of the previous contract between the SASSA and CPS would be suspended for 12 months.

The terms and conditions in the previous contract would continue to apply, according to the ruling.

The CPS had asked the Court to allow it to enter into a new and "lawful" contract with the SASSA after the existing contract expires on March 31.

Early this month, the Court reserved judgment in the SASSA and CPS saga, fueling anxiety over the grant payment.

The Court then failed to get an answer from the CPS about how much it would charge for distributing social grants if it concludes a new contract with the SASSA.

If CPS wanted to change how much it got paid, it could approach National Treasury, according to the new ruling.

Even after the ruling, the Democratic Alliance (DA) continued to press Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to resign.

"What is clear is that the minister has been directly responsible for the crisis," the DA said.

Dlamini has come under fire for allegedly leading her department into a national grant pay-out crisis, thus putting the lives of the most vulnerable citizens at risk.
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EARLIER REPORT:

South African opposition leader in trouble for praising colonialism

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- An opposition political party leader in South Africa is now facing disciplinary action for praising colonialism on Thursday.

Helen Zille, Premier of Western Cape province who is from the opposition, Democratic Alliance (DA) posted on twitter praising colonialism on Thursday.

In her tweets, Zille said, “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water.”

“Would we have had a transition into specialized health care and medication without colonial influence?

"Just be honest, please,” she noted.

The leader of the DA Mmusi Maimane then referred Zille to the Federal Legal Commission for investigation and reprimand.

DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme distanced the party from the tweets of Zille who is the former leader of the party.

She said, “Colonialism, like Apartheid, was wrong.

"It oppressed millions of people and violated human rights in a cruel and inhumane way.

"Colonialism, like Apartheid, is in every single way against our cherished values of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.”

Van Damme said they are committed to redressing the wrongs of the past and building a united South Africa with one destiny.

Another opposition, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) criticized Zille calling her statements racists and anti-blacks.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi rejected the apology offered by Zille.

“We call on the DA to remove Zille from premiership following these comments as they demonstrate that she has no appreciation for our democratic dispensation.

"She has proven that she cannot be entrusted with public office, in defense of our Constitution.

"No one, from a public office of our hard won constitutional democratic state must be allowed to freely express such cold hearted racism,” Ndlozi said.

EFF called for the DA to take a decisive stance and prove that they do not condone colonialism by firing Zille.

Ndlozi said the statements are not expected of a senior government official like Zille.

“ It is a fact that many racist white people sit on dinner tables when black people are not there and express their cold hearted racism, this is what Helen Zille truly is, a cold hearted racist who believes that colonialism, which was crime against the humanity of black people, is not a bad thing,” Ndlozi added.

The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu) also condemned Zille’s statement.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said it is an insult to the black people to glorify and idealize the dark past of this country (colonialism) that left many black people dead or maimed.

“Colonialism was not about civilizing the natives as she seems to suggest but was about subjugating and killing our people and plundering the resources of our continent.

"This period represented a dark and painful past for black people and these kinds of statements are an insult to many black heroes and heroines, who shed blood to fight colonialism and apartheid.”  Pamla said.

             

 

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